Why Parents of Toddlers lose all their Friends

12/12/2019

Parents of a toddler are really hard to hang out with. Especially for people who don’t have kids. They run off in the middle of a conversation chasing after their little one. They don’t look at you when you talk to them because they always have to keep at least one eye on their demanding offspring who could be destroying the place before the other person finishes their sentence. Parents also seem to forget about social norms when their priority is to prevent injuries and serious damage of foreign property inflicted by their kids. Hence it becomes acceptable to them to greedily stuff food into their mouths with their hands – for both themselves and their toddler. They don’t think twice before changing a stinky nappy in the room where their “childless” friends are still eating. They might not even have bothered putting on a clean top before going out. Firstly, since it won’t stay clean for long. Secondly, there most likely wasn’t anything clean left since the laundry has been piling up for the last couple of days. The bottom line is, parents can appear quite rude to people who are not used to having small children around.

Night(mare) at the Museum

We recently visited the National Museum of Natural History in Dublin with our newborn and our 2.5-year old. As if this hadn’t been challenging enough we arranged to meet a friend with his 3-year old twins. In fairness they all behaved very well – for toddlers. My husband was following our little one’s instructions of “Look Papa, look”, excitingly pointing into different directions. And by following I mean he was pulled along by the toddler leash on his backpack that we had put on him to keep him close. Our friend was trying to explain some strange looking animals to his amazed kids by reading the explanations on the display cabinet and fumbling in his backpack for some snacks and drinks at the same time. Multitasking at its best. Of course the most interesting animals – well, in the eyes of our kids – were on the top floor which was currently closed for renovations. This was nicely explained to us by an elderly museum guard. He seemed to be happy that someone had asked a question at all and gave us half the history of the place. One of the twins innocently interrupted by whispering “Daddy I need to pee.” That suited us well in this particular situation. Maybe rather inappropriate when your best friend (without kids) is pouring his heart out.

Like a chaotic American Comedy

While everyone was putting back on their bits and pieces in the foyer afterwards, I tried to take myself out of the situation. Looking down on us as if I wasn’t part of our noisy little group. But that girl that I used to be about 5 years ago doing the odd sightseeing on my own. It was like watching one of these American comedies that are too annoying to keep watching till the end. Our little one was knackered and too tired to keep walking, but still protested when we put him into the buggy. Once this was done, his shortly interrupted asking for food continued. While our friend ran out to extend his parking ticket we had to keep the twins busy, quiet and most importantly with us until he got back. We were actually thinking he might not come back at all or at least not for a while to have some peaceful moments in the car. When the level of noise started to get out of control my husband suggested a silent screaming competition. Strange, but brilliant concept. Everybody was happy with us just mouthing the screams, including the slighlty grim looking man at reception.

Kinder Surprise

Surprisingly our friend returned after only a couple of minutes and we all decided to go for lunch. An experience that most parents probably dread. I stopped going for lunch with our boy shortly after he started to walk. There was just no upside to having food in a public place other than not having to cook myself. However the downsides were outweighing that by far. First I have to keep him busy until the food arrives. As you can imagine this involves walking around a lot. The kids’ food normally arrives before mine so I can help him eating. Great, but who is going to explore the place with him when I get my dinner? Anyway, that was in the past. Lately it can actually be quite relaxed to go to a restaurant with the family. Can be, no guarantee given! Sometimes you enter a place with the calmest child in the world. Before you even get the menu you end up with demon baby at – or even on or under – the table. It is literally like a kinder surprise when you bring your ‘kinder’ (German for children) out to eat. You never know what comes out from underneath that sweet cover.

Country Folk in the City

We were lucky that day and enjoyed the meal in a civilised manner. Shout-out to Lauren from Foley’s Bar who besides providing a great service, had a good sense of humour and a soft spot for kids. We could even have a grown-up conversation. Well, the way parents have conversations. Meaning not looking at each other when talking, taking at least three attempts before finishing a story and waving sticky fingers in the air to emphasise a point. By the end of the dinner our little live wires were completely worn out and we decided to have a quick gander through the city (with everybody in their buggies). Who knows how long we hadn’t been in Dublin. Grafton Street had meanwhile been re-branded as Grafton Quarter. And our son got excited about the LUAS, repeatedly asking what that was. I pointed out the newly refurbished Bewleys Café to my husband which had already been re-opened in November 2017.

I wouldn’t change it for the World

Trips like that have become rare for us. With all the effort it takes to leave the house at a decent hour of the day, we value days like this even more. That morning we had just dropped everything and left the chaos behind to spontaneously spend a day in the city. Walking through the newly appointed Grafton Quarter at dusk, watching all the dressed up ladies in short skirts rushing through the cold, I remembered for a split second what it was like when I used to go out on a Saturday night. It seemed so far away, almost as if it had happened in a different life. I can honestly say that I didn’t envy these people heading out to some fancy bar or club. I couldn’t have been happier than I was in that precise moment. Sipping away on my hot chocolate with my 2-months old daughter snuggled into my coat. My husband beside me pushing the buggy with our sleeping toddler walking through Pre-Christmas Dublin.

“Party-Me” is definitely gone. Some friendships might have changed or even dissolved because of that. On the other hand I have met so many nice people through my kids who are in the same boat and who I can share my turbulent life as Stay-at-Home Mom with. Thanks again to the twin daddy who spontaneously spent the day with us in Dublin and to his lovely partner. And to all my dear mammy friends who make life so much easier for me.

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